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Word for Wednesday - Incognito


/in-kog-nee-toh, in-kog-ni-toh/
  1. having one’s identity concealed, as under an assumed name, especially to avoid notice or formal attentions.
  1. with the real identity concealed.
  1. a person who is incognito.
  2. the state of being incognito.
  3. the disguise or character assumed by an incognito.
Assuming an “online persona”, the state of being incognito is one that many of us within this particular blogging community are only all too well familiar with. We culture our pseudonyms, allowing us to hide in plain sight; sharing those parts of ourselves that we feel comfortable sharing, while protecting the privacy of the rest of our lives.

Our pseudonyms, our disguises, our protective colourings are, of course, no less real than our “true” offline identities. The vast majority of people within our community know me only by one (or more) of my online personae. Those who have met me, and some who haven’t, know my real name, but I am still the same person that I was when they only knew me by my “community” name.

The fact is, the longer we have our pseudonyms, and the more established they become, the more they actually come to resemble the actual person behind the name. The lines between the online and offline lives and personalities become increasingly blurred; it becomes less obvious where one version of ourselves ends and the other begins.

In the end, does it really matter which of my names you know me by? They all, after all, refer to the same person. What has become increasingly obvious over the years is that my real name and my online name both serve equal but opposite purposes. Both names identify me to and obscure my identity from different sections of the people I know and interact with.

All this begs a very interesting question, namely is it the real me or the online me that is attempting to remain incognito?